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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Miracles Happen.


Once upon a time there was a little boat of epicness.
27 feet of pure awesomeness
Her name was Yoldia

Yoldia needed a lot of work. 
So for almost a month we did nothing but work on her.

Then one day we decided that she was ready for the Pacific.
We just had to get her through the Panama canal...

To cross the canal you need 7 things:
1) An engine that can make 5 knots
2) A crew of 5
3) A toilet
4) Shade
5) Bottled water for the pilot/ advisor
6) Hot meals and snacks for the advisor man
7) And something else...We forget
We had none of the above

We paid the exorbitant fees and booked our transit. We rescheduled 3 times and eventually had it all set for 16:00 on Saturday 19 April 2013

D-DAY
08:00 Being last minuters, we did a supply run on Saturday morning getting 5) bottled water and 6) food
12:27 Captain Karl resumed work on the engine and changed the oil for the first time ever
           I packed away supplies, secured for sea, checked us out, collected spare parts and 3) the toilet  tested the vhf and wrote a blog
14:28 Our first crew member (Cinthia, from Quebec) arrived.
15:00 We went to collect a dinghy that someoone donated us that morning and the bags of food someone else donated. 
           Karl resumed work on the engine because all of a sudden there was air seeping in to the fuel supply again
15:28 We tested to see if the dinghy fit, filled the tanks, and threw everything on board.
          Karl started closing up the engine
          I was about to run around and start recruiting more crew when all of a sudden Michael (American) and Jairo (Dutch) arrived from nowhere. 
15:37 We fired up the engine (The canal was going to be the test run) and finally left Shelter Bay Marina without having a chance to say goodbye.


We sped off at almost 5 knots to the flats where our advisor would board.
Half way there they started calling us on the VHF asking why we weren't there... but when our advisor (Moises) finally arrived, we fed him (and the crew) bananas and he was happy enough


I was stressed more than I have ever been before, but the captain held his composure and under the 6.5 horse power of the engine and the 4 horse power of our dinghys outboard, we made 5 knots. 
Miracles happen.


We tied up to a tug boat for the first 3 locks and made it through in record time!
(2 hours as opposed to the 6 hours our trial run on another boat had taken us)




We began to relax and enjoyed the journey, even seeing our first crocodile


We fed the crew niknaks and everyone was happy!



We arrived in the lake where yachts stay the night before resuming their transit and we bid Moises farewell before the captain cooked us up a delicious meal


I think it was probably too delicious because as soon as it was ready Moises returned and told us he wanted to help us out and after dinner we motored another 20 miles towards the downward locks.


It poured with rain.
The engine heating lights were on
But we made it through our biggest part of the journey without an engine failure. 
We were amazed.

After 3 hours of sleep, we all woke up feeling great


And then our new adviser, Frank, arrived


Frank didn't like my corn and banana pancakes


In fact I don't think he liked Yoldia or us. 3 miles before the last locks he told us that we had to turn around - we didn't match the canal standards and we could therefore not complete our transit.

He had the canal company on the line when I marched forward and gave him the most persuasive talk of my life. I told him how hard we had worked for this. I told him how competent a crew we were. I drove home the human elements and eventually had tears in my eyes...
We had come that far and there was no way in Halweta we were turning around!

Frank changed his mind.
He told his advisory that we had made a plan.
Frank started to take interest in us and even turned out to be a really nice guy.
\We like Frank.

We tied up to a mega-yacht for the next set of locks and all the crew were so jealous of our ride that they came on board to take pictures of themselves on Yoldia




Behind us we had a vessel of the most maximust canal size and we were just glad their breaks worked.


We passed the first lock.



We got the instruments out on the second lock



And when we cleared the last one we all began to breathe properly.
Hugs
High fives
Maybe a few tears
I hoisted the South African flag


WE WEREE IN THE PACIFIC!!

We bid frank farewell.


And the party began



As soon as we dropped anchor in La Playita, Panama people swarmed to the boat to welcome us. 
Old friends were everywhere.
New friends were abundant.


WE WERE THE HAPPIEST PEOPLE ALIVE.

Thank you everyone at shelter bay for your help and donations.
Thank you everyone who prayed and fasted us through.
Thank you Micheal (first mate's first mate), Cinthia and Jairo for being an awesome crew
Thank you captain for pulling us through.
And finally Yoldia - thank you for holding yourself together, you might be small and get laughed at, but you're the best boat in the world!



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